Have you ever been warned not to put all of your eggs in one basket? It's sage advice, and a saying that's been around longer than anyone can remember. And it's usually very good advice. One mistake, mishap or problem with the basket and your eggs could be ruined.... so it's wise to spread your eggs around, across multiple baskets. And that's great I hear you say, but what's that got to do with my BNB?
Well as it happens, a lot. Quite a lot...
Your BNB is a precious resource. You want it booked for as many nights as possible, with as many heads in beds as you can get. Any night that your BNB is empty is costing you money... So your number one focus as a BNB operator is to get bookings for as many nights every month as you can get. Or to put it another way, your focus is to get bookings. Lots of them. Ideally, so many of them that you are running at 100% capacity and have every night booked with heads in beds.
In order to get bookings, you need to get your BNB in front of as many eye balls of prospective guests as you can. You need to get your BNB in the booking race, so that your price, location, style and amenities can swing the prospective guest your way. And here's the thing. Well two things actually.... First, not every prospective guest uses Airbnb. Some people prefer other STR booking platforms. Second, some people find the cost to use other STR booking platforms more suitable to their circumstances. Whatever the reason, you should understand that Airbnb does not command 100% of the booking market. If you have your BNB listed only on Airbnb, you have your eggs in one basket and you are limiting the number of eyeballs that see your BNB, and thereby limiting the number of prospective guests who could book at your BNB which in turn hampers the success of your BNB.
So, your BNB probably won't be a success - or as successful as it could be if you list it on Airbnb alone because you'll be limiting the audience - the number of eyeballs belonging to prospective guests - that are exposed to, aware of and persuaded to book at your BNB. So instead of just relying on Airbnb alone, what can you do to give your BNB a shot at more success?
1. List on multiple STR booking platforms
In Australia, Stayz (HomeAway) and Booking.com account for second and third place for market share in the STR platform booking market (source: AirDNA, Australia's Short Term Rental Report 2018) behind Airbnb.
Listing your BNB on Stayz and Booking.com is free, just as it is for Airbnb. You will pay a booking fee to each when you receive a reservation through them, but this is the same as the cost arrangements that you'll have with Airbnb.
Reassuringly for you and your prospective guests, the calendars for each STR booking platform can be linked so that a reservation in one removes availability in the others meaning you can avoid double bookings and the embarrassment that comes with it.
2. Take bookings directly from your own website
In my opinion, a website for your BNB through which you can take bookings directly is a critical and essential tool for your business and a major factor in it's success and longevity. With a website for your BNB, you enjoy complete control of your BNB's image, pricing and style. You set the rules, you set the tone and you control the prices without any interference or obligation to Airbnb, Stayz or Booking.com.
With your own website, you can push your BNB out into the world and in front of literally thousands of eyeballs via SEO (unpaid) and/or digital marketing (paid) taking the initiative to build a conversation if not a relationship with prospective guests. Keep in mind, that an STR booking platform doesn't care if prospective guests books with you, or one of your competitors, so long as they book with one of the properties on their platform. They won't think twice about promoting alternative properties to yours to prospective guests, so having a website of your own where you can control the dialogue, tone, flow of information and booking incentives or calls to action is not just important, it's commercially valuable.
Can you imagine any business operating without a website? No...? Well it should be no different for your BNB. Your website should be the central point around which your marketing takes place, and the point to which all activity gets directed and pointed to. I've written another article on why our BNB needs it's own website, and what benefits it can bring, check it out by clicking here.
3. Social Media
There has never been a time when direct communication to an audience has been more available, or as easy as it is today via social media. Our ability to engage with an audience, tell stories, build brands and communicate offers in a one to one way has never been greater. But beware, it isn't easy and it comes with it's own set of rules.
Do you remember the saying "if it was that easy then everyone would be doing it"....? Well, it doesn't apply to social media. I know a garden gnome that has their own social media profile. And a horse. And a cat. You probably do as well. The more appropriate saying would have to be "if it was that easy to do it well, then everyone would be doing well".
Doing social media well is hard. There are rules, there are disciplines. It takes time, and dedication. But is it worth it? Absolutely. Social media provides unparalleled opportunities to build brands, profiles, perceptions and awareness and to communicate offers with specific calls to action.
As marketers, we have never before had the ability to so easily, or so pervasively engage with a vast audience directly, one to one and to create a funnel through which you can direct your audience, from social media to your website where you can maintain your exclusive dialogue without interruption or distraction from your competitors.
4. Take action
There is no time to lose. Every night that your BNB is unbooked is costing you money. If you are only listed on Airbnb, you have your eggs in one basket and you are entirely at the mercy of Airbnb and the traffic they generate to their platform who may then see your listing, along with all of your competitors.
It costs you nothing to list your BNB on other STR booking platforms so get onto that ASAP and open up new channels through which you can aquire bookings. If you need help, or would rather someone else does it for you then The BNB Works can set up and write your listing for you from $129. Click here to check out what we can do to get you onto more STR booking platforms.
Get yourself a website. It isn't expensive - in fact not having one is costing you money. The BNB Works can create a fully customised and unique website for you from $649. Click here to check out what we can do to get your BNB's website onto the world wide web.
Get your social media cranking - but make sure you have a website to direct your fans and followers to. Don't make the mistake of directing your fans and followers to Airbnb or Stayz or Booking.com, where they will have your competitor's listings pushed and promoted at them. Let The BNB Works setup your social media accounts from $89, or manage your social media from $199 a month. Click here to find out more and check out the options.
Lift your game with professional coaching and mentoring. Have you seen any high performer succeed without coaching? It's an essential ingredient for success and a critical part of a winners game plan. The BNB Works offers coaching and mentoring from $149, so get started making the success of your BNB happen. Click here to learn more about The BNB Works' coaching and expertise and offers.
About the author: Allan Evans is the Co-Founder of The BNB Works, and Founder and CEO of The Solution Engine, a leading consulting and advisory firm based in Sydney and Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Allan writes regularly on Medium.com about a range of issues from leadership and business to a myriad of BNB and short term rental topics. Allan also operates the highly successful and popular Brunswick Mews BNB in Newcastle with his partner Julie.